Confidence is a hard subject to tackle. It is one of those attributes that always leaves us wanting more. Even though people have always said that I am a confident and outgoing person, that can quickly fade away when I am put into a situation outside my comfort zone.
No matter how big your comfort zone gets, there is always going to be unexplored territory waiting to test your resilience. When you step outside that boundary, even if you don't feel confident, you need to show confidence.
That is why I have developed some guidelines that I follow; little confidence hacks that help bring my best self with me even outside my comfort zone.
These tips will help you come off as confident until you expand your comfort zone. Fake it until you make it!
Whether it is a job interview, a business meeting, talking to the opposite sex or even just trying to make a friend, here are my three confidence hacks.
No matter what situation you are in, you should have a smile on your face. With the obvious exception of a funeral.
I remember being at a group interview a couple of months ago. I could tell that everyone was nervous, as expected, but there was one girl who wore it on her face.
While most people displayed subtle signs of their nerves—Fidgeting, slight stutters, short breath—she was putting on a performance with her expressions. I felt ever grimace, every pound of her heart.
She did not smile one time during the whole interview and it was very clear that she wasn't good at handling pressure.
Needless to say, she didn't end up getting the job.
70% of communication is non-verbal, so when you smile you show that you are happy, confident, and attentive. The reverse can show people that you are worried, anxious, unable to handle pressure and a myriad of other qualities you do not want to convey.
Another thing to note is that when you smile, you actually trick your brain into being happier and more relaxed. Your brain says 'Hey, if I'm smiling I must not be in danger. So things can't be that bad right?' Well, it probably doesn't literally say that.
So even if you are nervous, smile! It will convey to the other party and yourself that you are able to handle this situation.
I cannot stress how important this point is. It might seem like something so trivial, but study after study has found that people who maintain higher levels of eye contact are seen as:
- More powerful and confident
- More like-able and attractive
- More emotionally stable
- More qualified and competent
- More trustworthy and sincere
When you make eye contact you are conveying all of these messages to people, but not only that, you are also showing that you actually care about the interaction.
Just imagine engaging with someone who makes little to no eye contact with you. What would you think about this person?
You might think they are nervous, over-thinking, or worst of all that they aren't even paying attention to you.
Whether it's a speech, a job interview, a date, or a networking situation, more eye contact results in a better interaction.
The other party will see you as more confident and when you look that person in the eyes, you will be facing your nerves head on.
As I said earlier in this article, 70% of communication is non-verbal.
So far we have dealt with how you convey your confidence through your facial expressions and eyes. Now it is time to deal with the rest of the body.
You could write a whole book on body language—my favourite is 'How to tell what people are thinking' by Peter Collett—but I will go over some basic guidelines that will help you convey confidence, and trick yourself into feeling confident.
1) Stand up straight.
In most of the animal kingdom there is a strong connection between height and status. In humans there is an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting this.
While you can't make yourself taller, you can ensure that you are standing tall, not slouching.
This will show that you are at attention, and that you are not submissive.
2) Keep your head up.
If you have your head down you are subconsciously telling those around you that you are submissive.
Keep you head up and face situations head on to convey confidence and competence.
3) Look comfortable.
Another way to seem confident is to look relaxed.
When you look tense you are sending signals to people that you are nervous, worried or afraid. If you look relaxed then people will believe you are in your comfort zone.
Don't tense your muscles and don't fidget or touch yourself. Take deep breathes, talk slowly and show that you are comfortable in the situation.
No one is confident all the time. If you never get nervous then you probably aren't stepping outside your comfort zone often enough.
When you do step outside that boundary, take these tips with you.
I'm confident that you'll be just fine.